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Clegg has done too much gardening, but tells MPs to accept Legg’s demands

By Mark Littlewood
October 12th, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Comments Off on Clegg has done too much gardening, but tells MPs to accept Legg’s demands | Posted in UK Politics

gardeningNick Clegg faces the mild embarrassment of having shelled out £3,900 for his gardening expenses, when Sir Thomas Legg reckons three grand should have covered it. Nick’s paying back the excess.

Hearteningly, he seems to have got out the traps pretty damned fast on this one. And is calling on MPs to accept Legg’s demands without” quibbling, questioning or trying to drag their heels.”

One hopes that the LibDems ensure that all the party’s MPs swiftly attend to any repayment demands (i.e. preferably by close of play today). The whip should be withdrawn from those who don’t or won’t.

Nick Clegg should then be able to turn up the heat on Brown and Cameron to ensure their own parliamentary parties are equally compliant.

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Greg Dyke gets it…so should we…

By Angela Harbutt
September 25th, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Comments Off on Greg Dyke gets it…so should we… | Posted in UK Politics

greg-dykeBack from Bournemouth, and having caught up on my much-needed sleep and given myself time to reflect on the events of the week, my first offering (hopefully not my last, but we’ll see)  is this.

 Get Greg Dyke involved in Lib Dem policy on constitutional and democratic reform NOW !

If not spokesman then roving ambassador/tzar /advisor …something… Please.

Having listened to him speak at the Liberal Vision Fringe meeting “Moats, Mortgages and Mayhem” he is clearly not only one of the most eloquent speakers on the subject – but one of the most passionate. HE JUST GETS IT. ….

“The evidence that our democracy is failing is overwhelming…yet those with the biggest interest in sustaining the current system, the Westminster village, the media and particularly the political parties, including this one, are the groups most in denial about what is really happening”

He not only “gets it” – HE SAYS IT STRAIGHT. ….

“…most MPs can’t do their jobs…. When I was director-general of the BBC I regularly appeared before select committees and often had quite dumb people coming and giving me tough questions….How can those people question you now? How can someone who’s flipped their mortgage possibly sit there and start asking me about expenditure at the BBC? Because you just come back at them. I think some (MP’s) are completely undermined by this. They should go because they can’t do the job”


You see, his speech was not just an analysis of what is so wrong with the current system – but a damn compelling recipe for putting it right… “…halving the number of MPs….electoral reform (some form of Proportional reform)…an elected House of Lords…the abolition of the whips system…moving parliament out of Westminster into a building fit for 21st century politics ” etc..

On Sunday’s London Politics Show  Mark Littlewood suggested that one area that the Lib Dems could and should do more is on the area of democratic and constitutional reform. I think he is spot on. This is not the same old moan about how unfair the current “first past the post” system is ( that no one cares about).

This is bang-on topical. That chimes with people’s anger and frustration with Westminster politics.The expenses scandal exposed all the flaws of the current political system. And the frustration and anger with all politicians and the whole political system can still be felt on every door step, every day. People have not forgotten about it , even if the media dont talk about it anymore.

Nick Clegg showed his understanding of the public mood when he “broke with tradition” to be the first party leader to call for the Speaker Michael Martin to go and when he made the suggestion that Parliament should abandon summer recess to sort out the mess left in the expensesgate wake.

But, we seem to have stopped there….

I may be wrong but I did not hear any promise to clean up politics, reinstate the balance of power in favour of the people, bring the political system kicking and screaming into the 21st century, in the Leaders speech on Wednesday. Perhaps it was there – but if so it was buried.

My suggestion to Nick is this. Let us be the party of constitutional and democratic reform. Build this in as a fundamental plank of our election strategy. People should know that we hear the country’s demand  for a fundamental wholesale change to our democratic system – and spell out WHAT we would change and WHEN.  

And Greg Dyke is quite simply the best advocate of democratic and constitutional reform that there is.

Nick, please, take up this fight. And get on that phone to Greg. Persuade him to take up the Lib Dem banner on this. He may well, of course say no. BUT. If you can get him to say yes..the nation will thank you for it. And so will the party.

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Lord Rennard reported to the Privileges Committee

By Mark Littlewood
June 26th, 2009 at 7:31 pm | 8 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

I hear that Lord Rennard has been referred to the Privileges Committee over his expenses claims – particularly, but not uniquely, his claim that his primary residence is in Eastbourne.  He has been reported by the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics.

Those with long memories will remember the resolution of the Federal Executive Committee meeting, over a month ago, on 20th May 2009. This promised, amongst other things, a code of conduct to be published by mid-June. If it has been published, I can’t find any sign of it on the official party website (although as I can’t find a way of actually searching the party website, it’s hard to be sure).

Click here for the letter calling for an investigation

More to follow.

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Newsnight – 10.30pm

By Mark Littlewood
June 19th, 2009 at 5:24 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Michael Crick returns to the expenses issue on Newsnight tonight. I’m just off to do a pre-record for the programme.

Update 6pm: Cancelled owing to the breaking news on the police investigation.


Police to investigate MPs’ expenses

By Mark Littlewood
June 19th, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Comments Off on Police to investigate MPs’ expenses | Posted in UK Politics

The BBC have the story – apparently only applies to a small number of MPs.